Although I am quite the foodie, I also happen to be a picky eater. This little quality of mine made me apprehensive at first when I dined at Han Sang Korean Restaurant. The restaurant is located in the city of Walnut on Brea Canyon Road, about half an hour away from the Claremont Colleges. However, the food and service blew me away, definitely exceeding my expectations.
The restaurant, which can be found next to Paco's Tacos, was a bit difficult to spot at first and the parking lot layout was a bit confusing. The place was small and tucked away, with what seemed like two dining rooms: one casual and dingy, the other elegant and more luxurious. We took the first seats available in the casual room, which was surprisingly crowded. I was taken aback by how many people had filled the restaurant; I had never heard of it, let alone known that it was apparently quite popular.
When I opened the menu, I became a bit nervous. The food was mainly Korean barbeque but with many traditional dishes that I did not recognize. The picky-eater within me tried to rear its head, but out of politeness, I did not say a word about my worries. Instead, my friends ordered a special, which included several dishes like spicy chicken and beef bulgogi.
The first few dishes that arrived were small appetizers, the most common being different variations of kimchi and a noodle dish. The rest were unfamiliar items, so those dishes remained untouched through the course of the evening, except by my braver friends who wanted to take a risk. They gave mixed reviews about the flavors.
Soon, the rest of the food started arriving in massive amounts. So much food was brought to the table that there was barely any room for anything other than plates. I don’t think any of us had been expecting all this food. There were the main courses: bulgoli beef, spicy chicken, and boiled pork, accompanied by side dishes like gye-rahn jjim, which is fluffy egg, vegetable flat cakes, and rice with taro. At first I was a bit hesitant to try some of the dishes, but once I did, I could not stop. The food was incredible, especially the bulgogi beef with its savory, soft sweetness. My taste buds were singing with delight. The taro rice, when paired with spicy chicken or bulgogi beef, tasted delightful. While I still stayed away from kimchi due to my dislike of cabbage, the other side dishes were delicious.
The food was not the only spectacular feature of the restaurant; the service was really great as well. We were seated right away, and our server was very helpful with his menu recommendations. Then, he spontaneously brought us each a can of Coke, free of charge. He did not really explain why he was gifting us with the carbonated drink, but it was a very kind, unexpected gesture.
Since then, I’ve gone back to the restaurant several times with friends and family, and each time has been absolutely great. The service is wonderful and the food is even more so. The beef bulgogi is still my favorite. Han Sang may seem like a haven only for those with more adventurous stomachs, but in reality, it is just a regular restaurant where people can enjoy delicious Korean food. I have never been so happy about training my taste buds to accept a larger variety of foods because that was a meal I definitely savored.
Price-wise, I’d say it is fairly average: not very cheap but not too expensive either. The meals range from $11 to $30, with the large dinner courses higher up on the price spectrum since they are meant to be shared by large groups. On this note, I definitely recommend coming here with as many friends as possible. You could even bring a large study group if you wanted. Each meal set comes with so many dishes that it is almost impossible to not have some food left over. For college students, leftovers are, of course, the best thing in the world if you are trying to save some meal swipes. It’s a great place to go if you have a large gathering of people to feed and want something a bit more interesting than generic takeout. Overall, this is a food destination that I would definitely recommend to all of the Claremont College students who want a taste of something authentic and delicious.